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    The Wife's Story

    I come to Mozart's Wife after having first read its companion novel, My Mozart, which I enjoyed very much. But this was even better. Right from the start, I was gripped by this tale what it might have been like to be courted by and married to a musical genius like Mozart. Nowhere near as idyllic a love story as some folks might imagine. The greatest strength of this novel is the main character, who is not Mozart, but Constanze, his wife. Whether you like her or dislike her, in this novel she is not to be ignored. Stanzi's voice seems real and authentic (and quite different from the voice of Mozart's young lover in My Mozart, the story of a woman who only saw the part, not the whole). I felt as if I were being taken into the heart of an 18th century marriage, which is not, after all, very different from a 21st century marriage--passion and foolishness, hope, delight and adoration followed by the almost inevitable disillusionment as the real world batters at the gates of romance. The Mozart of this novel is sensitive, kindhearted, sensual, and so eager to please that he can't say no, especially to a pretty or a talented woman. And yet he is so lovable and irresistible to his wife that she forgives him time and again, not only for his infidelities, but also for his complete idiocy with regard to their finances. But the anger slowly builds inside her until she, too, is willing to dabble in a discreet but forbidden romance. Although I probably wouldn't have made the same choices as Stanzi does in this story, I can empathize with her, and even root for her when she does her best to put the broken pieces of her life back together. I can't even imagine how terrible it must have been to keep getting pregnant and keep losing one beloved child after another to death. Yet this was what most women endured before reliable birth control measures were invented. Anyone who romanticizes what it was like to live in the past will surely be brought up short when reading this account of what marriage and motherhood were really like for women in this era. And if you love Mozart and his music, there is a great deal to appreciate here, too, even though his music is not the primary focus of this book. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys lively, well-researched historical novels.
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